Lexington woman accepts plea deal in 2012 death of 9-month-old daughter

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LEXINGTON, N.C. — A Lexington woman accused of killing her 9-month-old daughter in July 2012 accepted a plea agreement Wednesday, according to District 22B District Attorney Garry Frank.

Chrystal Nicole Tanksley, of Lexington, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and willful child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury.

Tanksley was sentenced to serve between five and seven years in prison for the manslaughter charge. If she commits any crimes after she is released, she will serve a suspended sentence of between two years, one month and three years, six months. That sentence, which is suspended for five years, was for the child abuse charge.

Under the plea agreement, charges of first-degree murder and intentional child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury were dismissed.

Tanksley was arrested Sept. 25, 2013. On July 30, 2012, Tanksley was driving a car involved in a single-vehicle accident that occurred on Raleigh Road, police said. The car Tanksley was driving went off the right side of the roadway around 3:45 a.m. that morning before hitting a utility pole near the E-Z Car Wash.

Police said the only passenger in the car was 9-month-old Zakeri A. Mouzon, who was pronounced dead shortly after being taken to Lexington Medical Center.

Officers said the infant was in the front seat even though there was a pair of car seats in the back seat that appeared to be in working order.

Prior to the accident, Tanksley had been seen acting erratic. She said she thought something was trying to get her, so she put aluminum foil on her head to keep it from reaching her mind. She also told authorities there was a possibility she was trying to hurt herself and hit the pole on purpose to get away from what was chasing her.

Tanksley has three other children, ages 9, 8 and 3, who were placed in the custody of a family member. Another condition of Tanksley’s sentencing is that she has no unsupervised contact with her children, Frank said.

Prosecutors decided to go with a plea agreement because of Tanksley’s documented mental health issues that predated the death of her daughter.

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